Thanks to a generous Canadian couchsurfer named Elias, last month I found myself in the enviable position of being able to say ‘I have a free ticket to Radiohead!’ to anyone who would listen. Apparently Elias chose me not for my groundbreaking insights into Wittgenstein’s ladder or even my abiding love for Mr Yorke’s voice, but because he discovered from my CS profile that we had one very important thing in common: a shared passion for those dangerously addictive devils in a blue packet: crispy M&Ms.
They were playing on Tuesday and Wednesday (24th and 25th June) in Victoria Park and our tickets were for the Wednesday. BUT on Tuesday night, I was standing in my kitchen, dropping another tablespoon of chilli into my dhal when I suddenly realised I could HEAR the Pyramid Song. I could HEAR Thom’s voice from my stupid little under-stocked kitchen. He was serenading me as I chopped my coriander.
Like a rat lured by pipes, like a dopey forest animal transfixed by Orpheus’s lyre, I was drawn to the music. I wolfed down my dinner, recruited my flatmate Kyle to be my partner in stolen sounds, and ran down to the park, looking like a right plonker with my hands stretched out trying to catch the notes echoing between buildings, rumbling off the parked cars in the street and generally dervish dancing around in bejewelled ballet slippers.
We made it there just as Jigsaw Falling into Place began, and joined the other sound thieves on a hill just outside the concert walls. People had brought tartan picnic blankets, bottles of wine and tea-lights, and every now and then I’d meet someone’s eye who was just as deliriously appreciative as I was to be there. I had only ever heard Radiohead recorded. Live, Thom’s voice remains painfully personal. Even for the thousands of ears who had paid to be there, it was as if we were all behind the fence. He was singing to himself, and we were all just fortunate eavesdroppers.
The next night was obviously brilliant as well – they played Paranoid Android, which satisfied my Year 8 self on the school bus listening to it over and over again on my walkman – but that first night was just so spontaneous and unexpected: like getting home and finding a chocolate ganache cake with a big fuchsia bow on it in the middle of your bed (on a plate, of course).
Mighty Boosh vs. Hop Farm = Fluoro Spandex vs. Oatmeal Windbreakers
The Mighty Boosh festival and Hop Farm Festival were both held in the same field in Kent, but there the similarities end. The headliners of each festival drew significantly different crowds. The Mighty Boosh, for those of you whose lives are blighted by your wilful ignorance of this show, consists mainly of the British comedy duo Julian Barratt (Howard Moon) and Noel Fielding (Vince Noir): the former a jazz-loving ‘straight-man’ with a penchant for tweed and intellectual self-delusion, and the latter a cheeky androgynous electro-boy with a penchant for sequins and Mick Jagger (oh, and a phenomenal hair-do).
Contrast that with the headliner of Hop Farm – Neil Young – and you will get an indication of the crowd-pulling differences of these two festivals. Of course Neil Young is still amazing, it’s just in a slightly ‘older’ way…
On the Boosh festival day I was carried along on a magical dragon-boat of glam-rock ski-suits, sequined cowboy hats, gold spandex, fluoro yellow tutus, purple robes, afro-wigs and men dressed as the pink tentacled head of Tony Harrison. On the Hop Farm day I stood in a sensible field of navy windbreakers, beige trousers, plastic ponchos, and fold-up chairs with bags hanging off them to collect the mandarin skins and cheese wrappers from pre-prepared picnic lunches.
Exhibit (b) Hop Farm
Highlights of both days included chasing down American comedian Arj Barker for a photo, chasing down anybody dressed in a costume for a photo, sneaking in a bottle of vodka in the middle of a rolled up sleeping bag (thanks for that tip, Mum and Dad!), the Mighty Boosh’s soup-song remix, Jim James from My Morning Jacket wailing the glittering notes of Gideon in his blue cape, Gary Numan in general, discovering the lesser-known double-function of Oyster cards as Grade-A avocado slicers, and wearing slices of Edam cheese on my ankles. Unfortunately, that last point is not a joke. But at least it wasn’t my idea…